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5 poems by Aditi Rao

Art by Pierre Bonnard

I used to be more than the words

I did not say, the body that bent so easily under you. I was more than the careful hours spent and the muscles that tore

so easily under you. I was more than the bones and skin I lent and the muscles that tore and the words I never meant.

And yet, the bones and skin I lent and the ankles bruised and sore and all those words I never meant kept me from walking out the door.


A Laundry List of Reasons for my Silence

Because it has been a year: My therapist, I, and jenga blocks. Because these towers are tentative, no glue to hold them together. Because my muscles remember each blow

I braced for, especially the ones that never came. Because I am still learning to untighten. Because it is too late for your kindness. Because I am drawing thick, permanent

marker lines across my body. Because I am handing out no more erasers. Because I am tired of you needing. Because what about ‘no’ is so hard to understand?

Because there is no returning to a time before. Because kintsugi is all very well, but gold-sealed cups remain fragile. Because I’m not a cup, goddamnit,

and you are not gold. Because my feet are learning to trust ground again. Because I am falling in love, and not with you.


The Dialectic

It is new to me, this idea of love as its own antithesis: in our tenderest moments we build our firmest walls.

You hold my letter, the one full of poetry, so close I am not sure I’m allowed there. I push for permission to stay inside

my words. It is a slow relenting, your grip untightening, goofy grin giving way. You climb next to me,

take my hand, close your eyes. I read aloud, quietly.


Phantom Pain

Of course: He is present in each new lover, like pain that lingers after amputation. No cure,

they tell her, for parts of her that no longer exist, nothing to do but brace, bear, clench, wait.

One day, if she is lucky, the limb fades into memory.



A postcard full of forest. An arm draped lazily around. Squabbles over pandas and chocolate: Safety

in little things, love the only recovery from love.

These poems were first published in Aditi's second poetry collection A Kind of Freedom Song (Yoda Press). Follow Aditi's writing on her website and Instagram.


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